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PAB hits first milestone as applicants pour in 

The process of creating a civilian Police Accountability Board in Rochester is approaching its first milestone as the window closes for residents to apply to serve on the panel.

Nearly 120 applications have been submitted by people looking for a seat on the nine-member panel, according to the City Council and the Police Accountability Board Alliance, a coalition of grass-roots community groups. Council is tasked with nominating four to the board, as well as choosing four from 12 applicants submitted by the Alliance. The final member is chosen by the mayor.
click to enlarge Rochester City Council president Loretta Scott said the Police Accountability Board is a move toward transparency and accountability. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Rochester City Council president Loretta Scott said the Police Accountability Board is a move toward transparency and accountability.


The council received 78 applications as of its deadline of December 3, according to the council. A representative of the alliance, which gave applicants until December 11 to file, said 40 applications were received as of late last week. It was unclear whether any of the applicants had sent materials to both bodies.

“This is many years in the making, and it’s gratifying to see us move forward,” said City Council President Loretta Scott. “There’s much work left to be done, but we are moving toward having a modicum of transparency and accountability.”

Scott said applicants will be sorted by a number of factors, including educational background and experience, with a goal of creating a diverse board representative of the city.

No present or former members of the Rochester Police Department, or their immediate family, are permitted to serve on the board. Likewise, only one member may be a former law enforcement official in a different agency than the RPD.

Rochester voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of the board, supporting a referendum on the matter by a 3-to-1 margin.

Under the law, the board would be an independent office of city government responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by sworn police officers up to, and including, the chief. The board would be assisted by an executive director and staff, and have the power to issue subpoenas, impose discipline, and assess police practices and procedures.

Supporters say the board will help give city residents a voice in how their community is policed and provide more transparency. Critics claim enough oversight exists and question the legality of authorizing a panel with no law enforcement experience to discipline police officers.

For years, the city has had a police advisory board with limited teeth.

“It’s serious, and it’s daunting, but it’s also really exciting,” said Theodore Forsyth of the alliance. “This is a systemic change in the city, and it’s a change we’ve only seen in a handful of other municipalities.”

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at gfanelli@rochester-citynews.com.

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